Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Workflow-Enhancing Scripts

As I wipe away the dust and cobwebs from my blog, I realize I haven't posted here in quite some time. As I'm sure you're aware, I've been attending Animation Mentor for the past year and a half. It's been quite the journey. There have been ups and downs (mostly ups) and the amount of information they readily supply you with is second to none. Due to that fact and that assignments became increasingly more difficult and time consuming, I neglected my blog. Now that the sixth, and final, term is winding down, I figured I would take a moment and post something (hopefully) useful.

Having gone through the program, there are a couple Maya scripts that I can't live without. I'm sure everyone has their own set of tools that they use to speed up their workflow or make their lives easier in some way or another. I don't use a lot of scripts, but the ones I do help me out immensely.

These are the main scripts I use on a daily basis. There are other ones that I occasionally use, but these are definitely my go to scripts. A big shout out to the tool creators because they make my life (and many other people's) much, much better.

So, why do I use these scripts? First and foremost, they speed up my workflow. Without them, certain tasks would take much longer than necessary. It's nice to see Autodesk implementing some of these scripts into the newest versions of Maya. The main one that comes to mind is the autoTangent script. Before I started using Maya 2012, I had a script called autoTangent from Michael Comet. It was a godsend. However, upon the release of Maya 2012, Autodesk implemented it into their tools, which is awesome.

Here's a little summary for each of the tools in case you're curious about what they are and what they do:

Tween Machine, created by Justin Barrett, is a tool that allows you to create quick and dirty breakdowns between your poses. It gives you a quick way of adding initial breakdowns into their shots without having to fiddle with every single control visually. Instead, you can select the curve you want and either use the slider or the buttons to favor one pose or another. It's really useful for getting started, but you definitely have to go in and make additional tweaks to get the exact motion you want.

AweControlPicker, created by Awesome A.D., is a lifesaver. The functionality is second to none and it definitely makes selecting controls (and objects) much quicker. Before using this, I primarily used the AM GUI picker. After just a short time using the AM picker, I decided that I needed something more compact and versatile (mainly because screen real estate was an issue - I only have one monitor - and some of the picker buttons would de-select already selected objects or the "select all" key wouldn't select everything). I tried several different scripts, but found this one to suit my needs the best. AweCP is compact, dockable (it remembers your window state, which is awesome), and very easy to set up and use. The hotkeys help speed up my workflow and it is the one script I load every time I start Maya up. I don't think I could live without this script while animating. It's definitely worth checking out.

Arc Tracker, created by Spencer Jones, is another life saver. If you've animated anything before, you've probably been told to check your spacing or check your arcs. This tool does just that. I like docking it on the left (along with aweCP) and turning on "Thorough Trails." I've found that it's a little slow if I let it update every time I move a control, so I just have it create the trail once using thorough trails and then make my adjustments accordingly before updating the arc.

Studio Library, created by Kurt Rathjen, is another incredibly powerful tool. Not only are you able to save out individual poses and use them across several characters at a time, but you're also able to save out animations (think cycles) and reuse them. How sweet is that? It's a very robust tool that you just have to use. You'll definitely fall it love with it after using it a few times. It's definitely better than the default Animation Mentor Pose Library, in my opinion.

The final set of scripts are just super simple tools I put onto a shelf that I access every time I open Maya. Have you ever been trying to move a channel box value using the middle mouse button and drag and found that it's just moving too fast? Maybe you've had the opposite problem? Well, these scripts will change the channel box slider setting speeds. You have slow, medium, and fast, and as their name implies, the speed at which the channel box values get updated are affected. I usually turn mine to slow because I like the fine control it gives when changing values. However, I do switch to medium or fast sometimes depending on what I'm dialing in. The MEL scripts are as follows:

  • channelBoxSettings slow 2;
  • channelBoxSettings medium 2;
  • channelBoxSettings fast 2;

That's all for this time. If you guys have any scripts that you can't live without, definitely shout out in the comments below. I know there are many scripts out there and they all do something awesome. As I find more scripts, I'll update this blog post and write a short blurb about my impressions.

1 comment :

  1. Why, thanks so much for the kind words, glad you like my script ;)